Turkey issues arrest warrants for 82 including HDP members over 2014 incidents
Turkish authorities on Sept. 25 issued arrest warrants for 82 people, including a Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) mayor and former lawmakers, over protests that occurred six years ago.
Police have been searching for the 82 suspects in the Turkish capital and six other provinces, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.
“The Ankara Prosecutor’s Terror Crimes Investigation Bureau has launched an investigation into the PKK terrorist organization and its executives, as well as certain political party executives and members,” the prosecutor’s office said.
The prosecutor’s office has not specified the details about offenses the 82 people are alleged to have committed but has claimed that the crimes committed during the protests included murder, attempted murder, theft, damaging property, looting, burning the Turkish flag, and injuring 326 security officials and 435 citizens.
A warrant also has been issued for the mayor of the eastern province of Kars, Ayhan Bilgen, who has been detained. Former deputies Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Ayla Akat Ata, Nazmi Gür, Emine Ayna, Beyza Üstün and Altan Tan, former party Spokesperson Günay Kubilay and HDP Central Executive Board (MYK) member Alp Altınörs have been detained according to the reports. Among these, Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) member from the HDP, Ali Ürküt, also is in the list of detainees.
The HDP has said it can’t be silenced by this “revenge operation.”
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul Deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu said, “It is a wedding gift to the palace,” while the deputy chairman of the DEVA Party, Mustafa Yeneroğlu, said, “It is absurd to think that Ayhan Bilgen, Altan Tan, Süreyya Önder and others were taken into custody only for legal reasons.”
Separately, the Ankara prosecutor's office is now preparing proceedings against seven more HDP lawmakers that could lead to their immunity being lifted to allow them to be charged, the Anadolu Agency reported.
The Turkish government accuses the HDP of being a political front for the outlawed PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the U.S.
Former HDP co-leaders Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş have also been named in the investigation, but both have been in jail since 2016, pending multiple trials.
The government accused the HDP of urging people to take part in the protests in 2014 across Turkey that left many dead, which the HDP denies.
In 2014, some 37 people died in violent protests, which erupted over the Turkish government’s perceived inaction toward ISIL militants’ siege of the Syrian town of Kobane, leading to a long stall in the peace bid between Ankara and Turkey’s Kurds.